2012 draft: Chicago Cubs wish list for the sixth-overall pick
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The Chicago Cubs hold the sixth-overall pick in the 2012 amateur baseball draft, which will be held June 4-6. With the organization in full remodel under new GM/president of operations, Theo Epstein, the team has some major holes to fill, especially pitching, where the lack of starting pitching in the farm system is indicative of the team’s struggles over the years. Just take a look at teams like the Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants. Those teams have stockpiled young pitching through the draft and have reaped the benefits of long-term success at the major league level. The Cubs can go several different routes with their first pick, and I have broken it down into three categories.
I would also like to point out that I am assuming Mark Appel, Mike Zunino, Byron Buxton and Kevin Gausman will be off the board by the time they draft. If anyone of those guys are still on the board, however, the team should jump all over any of them. Click here for a scouting report on those players.
High school position player
Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe HS (LA) — Why would the team select a shortstop when they have Starlin Castro cemented at the position already? Well, in baseball, unlike the NBA and NFL drafts, you take the best player available. A kid like Cecchini is still at least three years away from playing at the major league level and anything can happen in that span. Plus, he has the ability to make a move to second base with ease, although his defense could very well make Castro make the move to second base once he arrives.
The 6’-2”, 185-pound right-hander is one of the top high school players in the draft, and his ceiling on both sides of the field is off the charts. A gifted all-around athlete, he has been timed at 6.6 in the 60 yard dash and he used that speed to swipe 32 bases last year for Barbe, a perennial powerhouse that has been nationally ranked every year for the past 18 years. He also hit .548 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs and 41 RBI over 42 games, displaying his power potential, as well. Through 22 games this season, he is hitting .378 with two home runs, 15 RBI and is 15-for-15 in stolen base attempts.
On the field, his speed, footwork, range, strong arm and instincts all make him one of the best defensive shortstops in the draft. He has yet to commit an error this season.
He lead the 2011 U18 Team USA in hitting, going 25-for-50 (.500) over 14 games, helping lead the team to the gold medal in the Pan Am Championships. He scored 18 runs, with five doubles, one home run, 17 RBI, 10 stolen bases and had a slash line of .561/.660/1.221 while playing a flawless second base. Theo is also very familiar with Gavin, as he drafted his brother, Garin Cecchini, in the fourth round of the 2010 draft while with the Red Sox. Garin is already rated as a top-10 prospect in the organization.
David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain HS (AL) — Dahl has drawn comparisons to the Angels’ Mike Trout and the Red Sox’ Jacoby Ellsbury for his all-around talents and the way he approaches the game all-out. The 6’-2”, 185-pound left-hander has elite speed, having been clocked at 6.5/60. Like Cecchini, he has an advanced feel for the game and makes everything look easy. Hit .449 with 18 doubles, three triples and two home runs while driving in 29 runs as a junior last season, striking out just 10 times over 118 at-bats. He also posted a .493 OBP, .703 SLG and hit .488 with runners in scoring position. Through 20 games this year, he is hitting .386 with a .533 OBP, 11 doubles, two triples, a home run, nine RBI and is a perfect 15-for-15 in stolen base attempts.
A teammate of Cecchini on U18 Team USA, he hit .364 with 11 runs, nine RBI and seven stolen bases over 15 games, mostly batting from the leadoff spot. A line-drive hitter with extremely quick wrists, more power should come as he matures.
Albert Almora, OF, Mater HS (FL) — Almora reminds me of Derek Jeter in that his intangibles and instincts for the game are unparalleled at the high school level. A six-time member of Team USA (a record), Almora is a true leader and plays the game like a 10-year major league veteran. He was named the MVP of the Pan Am games as Team USA went 9-0 and beat Team Canada 12-2 for the gold medal. He hit .421 (16-for-38) with a team-leading 11 runs, five doubles, 11 RBI and nine stolen bases for the tournament.
His speed, range and glove will keep him at center field at the major league level. Like Jeter, he doesn’t excel at any one area, but should be a high-average hitter with 20 HR/20 SB potential. At 6’-2” and 185 pounds, the right-hander would bring instant leadership skills and a high character to any organization he joins. His cousin, Manny Machado, was the third-overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles in 2010, and is considered one of the top prospects in the game.
High school pitcher
Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia HS (FL) — High school pitchers are risky but Weickel looks like one of the safest bets around. At 6’-6” and 210 pounds, the right-hander has the frame to be a future workhorse and staff ace. Yet another member of the 2011 U18 Team USA, he went 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA and 12 K/2 BB over 13.1 innings. His fastball hits 94 mph and should generate more velocity as he matures. With both his low-70s curveball and low-80s change-up projecting as plus pitches, he is one of the top arms in the draft. He pitches from over the top and has a deceptive, downhill plane to his pitches. Always looks very calm on the mound, showing a poise and mound presence beyond his years. He could join Dillon Maples, a 2011 draft pick by the Cubs, to give the team a lethal 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation in a few years.
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